Not Trimming Your Candle Wick? This Is Why You Should.


Candles are one of the de facto tools for adding ambiance to any room.

Unsurprisingly, most of that ambiance comes from the flame itself.

Wick trimming is one of the easiest ways of ensuring your candle flame performs its best.

From prolonging candle life to controlling the flame size and reducing soot production, candle wick trimming is worth doing.

Let’s find out why you should trim your candle wicks and how to trim them.

Why Should I Trim My Candle Wick?

However; over time, the wick will become longer and longer as the wax melts away. This can cause a few problems:

When you first buy a candle, the wick is usually at an ideal length. This ensures a smooth consistent burn when you first light up your candle.

  • A longer wick may begin to ‘mushroom’, or curl at the tip, causing excess soot production and an uneven burn.
  • A longer wick will also create a larger flame which will increase the rate at which your wax melts. This can create candle tunneling as well as more soot and black smoke since the wax is being absorbed through the wick faster than it can be burned.

Regularly trimming your wick can prevent these problems, creating a smoother, cleaner candle burn that can extend your candle’s life by up to 25%. Furthermore; cleaner burns will result in your candle jar having less residue (soot) on it.

When Is It Time To Trim My Candle Wick?

There are a few key signs you should look out for that will tell you if you should consider trimming your candle:

  • Your candle is smoking visibly
  • Candle tunneling is occurring
  • The flame appears bigger than usual (i.e. it’s larger than when you first used your candle)
  • The flame is flickering or not steady
  • Your wick appears visibly longer than 1/4 of an inch.

Once you see these signs, it’s time to trim those wicks.

The When And How Of Trimming Your Candle Wick

There are two components to successfully trimming your wick: when to trim it and how short the wick should be. Let’s go through each.

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to trim your wick every 3 – 4 hours. This can be quite tricky since it requires that you keep track of the time.

An easier method is to trim the wick before each candle burn.

Ensure that the candle has cooled down first before trimming it. This will take between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size of the candle.

In terms of wick length, you want to keep the wick 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. Technically, we are referring to the distance from the base of the wick (where it connects to the wax) to the tip of the wick.

Be aware that this can change depending on the size of the candle. A 1/4 of an inch works well for larger pillar candles whilst smaller tealight or votive candles will benefit from a smaller trim.

So what do you use to trim the wick?

Using a pair of scissors will do the trick. However; if your candle has been burning for a while and the wick is deeply sunk into the jar, we’d recommend using something smaller like nail clippers. Alternatively, you can also opt to purchase candle wick trimmers.

Try to cut the wick as straight across as possible for the best results.

What If I Cut My Wick Too Short?

If you have trimmed your wick and realized that it is too short, rest assured there is an easy way to fix this:

  • You can light the candle in order to melt and remove the wax. Note; that it is important that you melt the entire top level evenly to prevent candle tunneling. About 1 hour for every 1 inch of diameter is a rough rule to follow. Otherwise; you can just visually inspect the candle to see if the top layer has completely melted. Once done, remove the melted wax by soaking it with a paper towel.
  • Alternatively, use a melt gun or hair dryer to melt the wax.

If the wick is still not long enough, continue melting the wax again until you reach the desired length.

If the wick has buried itself in the wax, then you can use a pair of tweezers to straighten it out of the wax. It’s best to do this once the wax is slightly melted or softened, by following either of the points above.

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